“I recommend this book STRONGLY to women with body/image issues (and similarly, though perhaps less strongly, to men with body issues), as Cyndi’s honest journey (and the wisdom she was offered and gained along the way) can be profoundly helpful. I’d also recommend it to anyone doing a bit of soul-searching, and to all yoga teachers (and yoga-teacher-want-to-be’s). And yes, to those facing the challenges of an ailing parent, many parts of this book will speak to you as well. (Just be sure to have a box of tissues nearby.)”
“Lee beautifully describes the yin and yang of an all-encompassing yogic lifestyle. Sprinkled throughout are short (but sweetly sage) anecdotes from the veteran yoga instructor’s classes. The author writes that her beloved mother’s firm direction on “how to be ladylike and strong at the same time” still resonates with her today and pretty much sums up the tone of this distinctively Zen autobiography.”
“Despite international renown as a Buddhist-inspired yoga teacher, Lee (Yoga Body, Buddha Mind) experiences suffering just as we all do. In this heartfelt memoir, she reflects on hating her body—an all too common problem. Lee examines how her dance career, her relationship with her mother, and other life events affected her body image and in turn how it impacted her marriage. Honestly, and at times provocatively, she describes her journey toward remembering her basic goodness and finding contentment with her physical appearance. Woven into the narrative are first-person vignettes of Lee teaching her students. Her style is a beautifully accessible blend of Buddhist mindfulness practices and yoga asana. Guided by wise women (actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Christiane Northrup, self-help guru Louise Hay, various Buddhist teachers, friends, and herself), Lee remembers the truth: that we are all perfect and there is nothing wrong with us. Verdict Lee’s writing matches her teaching style: patient, melodic, and straightforward. Yoga students of all levels and abilities will learn from the simple, profound lessons in this book.”
“Instantly relatable to almost every woman, Lee’s journey reels readers in.”
“Though May I Be Happy‘s message embraces female empowerment, its underlying wisdom about the body as a vehicle for self-improvement and instrument for spiritual growth should appeal to readers of either gender. Discover: A wise and vulnerable memoir about freeing ourselves of outdated images of the body from a skilled writer and spiritual teacher.”
“It’s not every day that one of the leaders of the yoga world — in this case, the founder of OM yoga — comes out as having body-image issues. A yoga teacher who hates her body. Huh? It’s about time someone was straight about this. Her willingness to do so takes guts and is an inspiration to the rest of us.”
“Even yogis have fat days. In May I Be Happy, superstar instructor, Cyndi Lee, admits to hating her body, despite being at the top of an industry that gushes self-acceptance. Whether or not you do yoga, this memoir is riveting.”
Yoga Guru Cyndi Lee on a Simple Way to Stop Hating Our Bodies
Written by Hannah Sentenac | September 17, 2014
As a renowned yoga teacher and media darling, Cyndi Lee seemed like the poster child for confidence and self-acceptance. Yogis are supposed to be radiant avatars, after all. But beneath the Namastes and Lululemon she was hating her body, just like (most of) the rest of us.
This realization led her on a lengthy journey — to India, to Japan in the midst of the 2011 earthquake, to interviewing notable women, to finally embracing a loving kindness practice that shifted her perspective. She penned the book, May I Be Happy, about her experience, and she’s speaking about it at Books & Books on September 18. We spoke to Lee on self-loathing, new perspectives and how she’s accepted the wrinkles on her knees.
“The original working title for the book was I Hate My Body, which I thought kind of said it all,” says Lee. An editor eventually told her she couldn’t start with such a negative premise however, and needed to let the reader know where the journey led. Hence the final title, May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga and Changing My Mind.
“I’m a yogi, I’m a Buddhist, and one of the teachings is that you have to actually start with where you’re unhappy — where you’re suffering, and look at that as a way to transform it.”
A trip to India led her to identify some skewed priorities.
“I went to India and I was seeing all these people suffering and starving and I’m touching my stomach thinking, ‘Maybe I can lose weight on this trip,'” she recounts.
“That was when I first recognized that i was basically torturing myself all the time by criticizing my body. Some people criticize themselves in other ways but that was my way, probably because I’m a woman and because I was a dancer and a lot of other influences that are familiar to many many women. Basically it’s normal, this is normal. This is not OK, but it’s normal.”
So how did she turn things around? A practice called maitri. Loosely translated …